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Old 01-19-2020, 02:31 PM   #1
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Help me understand power

I know it will be a long answer and there are several variables but please someone help me understand my Jayco grewhawks power.

190watt go power solar with controller
1000 watt inverter - factory
Added second house battery

Do I have to be concerned about boondocking for a few days and still run everything?
What canít I power while boondocking?
Should I always run the inverter?

Electricity confuses me. We just want to watch some tv and run a coffee maker and maybe cook a meal. Iím guessing I canít run the A/C?

Thanks from a newbie
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Old 01-19-2020, 04:22 PM   #2
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Watch your tv and enjoy your 12v lights. Run your furnace a lot and you'd better hope for sunshine. Instead of running the coffee maker, consider heating your water with propane on your stovetop and pouring it through your coffee maker.

AC is not possible.
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Old 01-19-2020, 05:09 PM   #3
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The biggies for electric draw are the furnace fan, coffee pot, toaster and if you have a residential fridge that will kill the batteries is short order. If not keep the fridge on propane to lessen the power use.

I don't have solar but there are many on here that do and will probably jump in to help you do the math. I know just enough to get in trouble.
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Old 01-19-2020, 07:55 PM   #4
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Thank you! Yes I have a 3 way norcold fridge. we dont use a microwave, but we do use a keurig.
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Old 01-19-2020, 08:54 PM   #5
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What kind of batteries do you have? Where will you be camping, high mountains or desert get cold at night and furnace fan is a battery vacuum cleaner. Many other things can influence the answer like will you park in a shady spot or the sun? How many cups a day, hours of TV or recharging laptops, etc.
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Old 01-19-2020, 09:02 PM   #6
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What kind of batteries do you have? Where will you be camping, high mountains or desert get cold at night and furnace fan is a battery vacuum cleaner. Many other things can influence the answer like will you park in a shady spot or the sun? How many cups a day, hours of TV or recharging laptops, etc.
^^^^^^^^^ What he said above... plus..

What 12 volt items you running? Water pump, lights, radio, water heater, etc. These will also draw from your battery bank along with the inverter. Do you have a generator that you can run for a short time to top off the batteries on cloudy days?
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Old 01-19-2020, 09:30 PM   #7
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I have a Greyhawk and added 200 watts of solar. It is not enough to keep my 2 12 volt batteries charged during the day if the Direct TV is running through my 1000 watt inverter all day. The only item running off inverter is the TV equipment. Fridge is on propane.

Many people think inverters are magic and will power all of their appliances without any problem. Well, they are not. Yes they will produce 120 volts and power things BUT they pull big battery power in doing so.

The inverter doesn't create power out of thin air. With 12 volts in and 120 volts out, the current required is basically a factor of 10. This means that to get 1 amp out (100 watts) you need 10 amps at 12 volts in (100 watts). If you need 2 amps out you will be pulling 20 amps from the batteries. This is the equation in its most basic form and does not allow for conversion losses.

OK, the inverter sucks battery juice like there is no tomorrow. Not the end of the world if you have a way of charging the batteries back up. Solar definitely helps but is not the cure all. It will do nothing for you after the sun drops below a certain level.

The first thing you need to do is to have a display of your battery voltage so you know exactly where things are at. This can be a simple plug-in monitor that goes in a power outlet, provided it is connected to the coach battery. I installed a remote monitor that connects directly to the battery with a display inside my rig. It also shows current being drawn from the batteries. I watch this gauge all the time as I am easily entertained.

I hated using my big 4k generator to just charge the batteries so invested in a small 2200 watt Ryobi inverter generator to keep the batteries charged if required. This was the best investment I made in the power equation. It will run all day on 1 gallon of gas and is capable of running most of my 120 volt items except AC. It will run the microwave as long as my batteries aren't way down requiring a major draw from the converter in recharging. I also set my fridge to propane only to help take the load off the little generator and allow it to "idle down" so it doesn't have to work so hard. Quieter too.

So, my recommendation is to first install a voltage monitor and watch the battery status. You will be able to tell if your solar can keep up or not. These days I do not want my voltage to go below 12.1 volts to prevent battery damage.
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Old 01-20-2020, 12:20 AM   #8
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Creek,

Above is great advice so I won't try to duplicate what they have said. I will tell you my "strategy" when we boondock. Basically I try to head into darkness with as much power as I can. Meaning if there is a great day of sun and we haven't used much power during the day, I might be near full on the batteries and can make it through the night. If however there is poor sun, or we have used up a bunch of power (which typically happens on cloudy cold days) then i might be 50-60% capacity. In that case we may choose to run the generator for a little bit. If we do that I always give the family heads up so we can charge anything that needs charging. As for us, we can make it through the night watching a little TV and running the heater and still have enough power in the morning to get us going.

Truthfully experience will be your best teacher. Get out there and give it a try.

Happy Camping.

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Old 01-20-2020, 04:25 PM   #9
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Creek,

Above is great advice so I won't try to duplicate what they have said. I will tell you my "strategy" when we boondock. Basically I try to head into darkness with as much power as I can. Meaning if there is a great day of sun and we haven't used much power during the day, I might be near full on the batteries and can make it through the night. If however there is poor sun, or we have used up a bunch of power (which typically happens on cloudy cold days) then i might be 50-60% capacity. In that case we may choose to run the generator for a little bit. If we do that I always give the family heads up so we can charge anything that needs charging. As for us, we can make it through the night watching a little TV and running the heater and still have enough power in the morning to get us going.

Truthfully experience will be your best teacher. Get out there and give it a try.

Happy Camping.

Rob
Thank you all. I can also run the generator if needed to charge. I am only seeking a few rare trips of a few nights with no plug in power and extremely short periods of generator use. The only things I am concerned about is the occasional furnace run, the water pump, a couple cups of coffee from the keurig, a few lights from time to time and some Dish network TV for a couple hours. I will be running the fridge and the water heater on propane. So on a sunny day with both batteries fully charged, I should be fine? What level should I keep the batteries at? Also, I always keep the inverter switched on?
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Old 01-20-2020, 04:51 PM   #10
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I will be running the fridge and the water heater on propane. So on a sunny day with both batteries fully charged, I should be fine? What level should I keep the batteries at? Also, I always keep the inverter switched on?
Just remember, even with the fridge and water heater running on propane, they still require 12 volts to operate, so add them into your calculations.

If you have standard deep cycle RV batteries, they shouldn't be discharged below 12.2 volts or 50% of charge.
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Old 01-20-2020, 04:56 PM   #11
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Thank you all. I can also run the generator if needed to charge. I am only seeking a few rare trips of a few nights with no plug in power and extremely short periods of generator use. The only things I am concerned about is the occasional furnace run, the water pump, a couple cups of coffee from the keurig, a few lights from time to time and some Dish network TV for a couple hours. I will be running the fridge and the water heater on propane. So on a sunny day with both batteries fully charged, I should be fine? What level should I keep the batteries at? Also, I always keep the inverter switched on?
The Keurig will be the biggest draw in your case. They are fast and convenient, but they draw huge power.

If I were you, I'd go with a percolator or a "pour-over" filter of some kind while boondocking. Even those little Starbucks instant packs get pretty good reviews, but I've never tried one myself.

Funny story: We were boondocking in a soy bean field during the eclipse a few years ago. Pretty much at ground zero for totality. Really neat experience. Anyway, I saw one of the other people who was tenting near us pull out one of those plug-in inverters (I'm guessing around 200w max) and then pull out their Keurig. I was watching from inside my trailer during breakfast. I told DW "Watch this, you're about to see something funny". They proceeded to plug the little inverter into their car, then plug the Keurig in, then the looks of confusion and dismay began. A few minutes later I saw them walking up to the "main house" where my friend's grandmother lived (she was hosting the whole shin-dig) carrying the Keurig. I assume they were going up there to plug in so they could make coffee.

We run a Keurig in our rig as well, and when it fires up, our 3750W generator would burp under the load.

So, yeah, they use A LOT of juice. When boondocking, if you're not running the generator, my recommendation is to find another way to make coffee...

ETA: Or time your coffee brewing during a generator run-cycle...
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Old 01-20-2020, 06:01 PM   #12
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Great! Thanks again. One thing I forgot about was my wifes hair dryer?? I would imagine that would put a hurting on the batteries as well?

Anything else you can enlighten a newbie with?
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Old 01-20-2020, 06:26 PM   #13
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Anytime you are creating heat from electricity you will be using lots of energy. Incandescent bulbs throw off more heat than LEDs. That's energy being used. Basically everything you have plugged in and running is now battery operated with a rechargeable battery.

Heating air and powering a fan to dry your hair takes lots of batteries. Nearly boiling water and creating enough pressure for brewing in a Keurig uses lots of batteries.

Best thing is go do it, see how it works. Just remember to not deplete your battery to less than 50% or you will be replacing it much sooner than normal.
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Old 01-20-2020, 06:42 PM   #14
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Great! Thanks again. One thing I forgot about was my wifes hair dryer?? I would imagine that would put a hurting on the batteries as well?

Anything else you can enlighten a newbie with?
Say your hairdryer is 1200 watts. This equates to 10 amps at 120 volts. To get that power your inverter would need to pull 100 amps (100a x 12v = 1200w). That is some serious current draw.

I would never run a hairdryer without shore or generator power. Try suggesting that she dry her hair using the engine exhaust. She could sit in front of the exhaust pipe. Of course after making this suggestion you may be seeing how comfortable it is to sleep on the coach's couch.
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Old 01-21-2020, 10:19 AM   #15
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Thank you all for your assistance and "dumbing" it down for me.
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Old 01-21-2020, 11:18 AM   #16
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TaftCoach is right. Anything that generates heat is going to be a power hog. No hairdrier unless on generator or shore power, sorry. DW has thrown a couple breakers with hers, and it's one of those small travel-size ones...

But also, things that use a compressor to make cold also use a lot of energy. My countertop ice maker is another power hog. Sorry, ice comes from trays in the freezer (running on propane) when boondocking; no ice maker...

Also agree with LEDs for all your lights. My rig came equipped with MOSTLY LED lights. Notable exceptions were the reading lamps above the bed that used the worst offender, Halogens. Also the "appliance bulb" in the hood above my stove was a regular, power hogging bulb (I swear, it created enough heat that I could use the stove-top cover as a warming table). The standard surface-mount light pods in all my storage bays also came with incandescent bulbs. I've replaced the reading lamps and the hood bulb with LEDs, but haven't gotten around to the lights in the storage bays yet. I FINALLY got ALL my trailer lights converted over time; retrofitted the last couple about 3 months before I traded it in...

I'm coming at it from a different angle though. I'm always looking for ways to minimize heat generation so I can keep the rig cool. Power savings is a nice side-effect for me.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:39 PM   #17
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Great! Thanks again. One thing I forgot about was my wifes hair dryer?? I would imagine that would put a hurting on the batteries as well?

Anything else you can enlighten a newbie with?
My wifeís hair dry on Hi Heat and fan pulls 19 amps..over half the power of my generator! No worries on 50 amp service.
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Old 01-21-2020, 11:39 PM   #18
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Electricity confuses me. We just want to watch some tv and run a coffee maker and maybe cook a meal. I’m guessing I can’t run the A/C?

Thanks from a newbie

Just wanted to jump in and say it took me awhile to figure out the power system in the RV. 12V, 120V and Propane.


Don't feel bad.


Here's what we do when boondocking:
- fill the propane tank before leaving
- put fridge on Auto (so it'll use Propane)
- fuggadadboutda Inverter. There's only one (or a couple) of outlets that are fed from the Inverter.

- if your water heater has an electric element, turn it off. Use propane only to heat water




- AC, Microwave and just about any Kitchen Appliance is going to take POWER. More than your batteries can provide. Fire up the generator when your boondocking to run the AC, the microwave and recharge your batteries


- Hide your wife's hair dryer. Magically discover it when your back home.


Things that drain your battery when boondocking:
- furnace
- inverter and anything you have plugged into it (TV)
- a few unpluggable systems (eg propane detector); you can't turn these off and you don't want to
- water pump
- water heater



Things that recharge your battery when boondocking:
- your solar
- running the generator
- running the engine


It's a balance that you'll get used to. Watch the Battery Voltage monitor on your inverter and you'll get a sense of if you're sucking more out than putting in.


Like others have said, when your boondocking, you can:
- run the generator and live life like normal
- or dump the Keurig and the microwave. Use the stove to cook, make coffee with a French Press or Pour Over or percolator


The only way you're going to run the AC is to run the generator.
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Old 01-22-2020, 07:46 AM   #19
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Just wanted to jump in and say it took me awhile to figure out the power system in the RV. 12V, 120V and Propane.


Don't feel bad.


Here's what we do when boondocking:
- fill the propane tank before leaving
- put fridge on Auto (so it'll use Propane)
- fuggadadboutda Inverter. There's only one (or a couple) of outlets that are fed from the Inverter.

- if your water heater has an electric element, turn it off. Use propane only to heat water




- AC, Microwave and just about any Kitchen Appliance is going to take POWER. More than your batteries can provide. Fire up the generator when your boondocking to run the AC, the microwave and recharge your batteries


- Hide your wife's hair dryer. Magically discover it when your back home.


Things that drain your battery when boondocking:
- furnace
- inverter and anything you have plugged into it (TV)
- a few unpluggable systems (eg propane detector); you can't turn these off and you don't want to
- water pump
- water heater



Things that recharge your battery when boondocking:
- your solar
- running the generator
- running the engine


It's a balance that you'll get used to. Watch the Battery Voltage monitor on your inverter and you'll get a sense of if you're sucking more out than putting in.


Like others have said, when your boondocking, you can:
- run the generator and live life like normal
- or dump the Keurig and the microwave. Use the stove to cook, make coffee with a French Press or Pour Over or percolator


The only way you're going to run the AC is to run the generator.
This was the exact reply i was looking for. Thank you kindly for your information. I can run the generator for a bit for sure! Its understanding the flow of the electricity and its draw that I get confused about. My greyhawk also has a power control unit that tells me all kinds of stuff but I have not played with it at all.

Thank you
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Old 01-22-2020, 08:19 AM   #20
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This was the exact reply i was looking for. Thank you kindly for your information. I can run the generator for a bit for sure! Its understanding the flow of the electricity and its draw that I get confused about. My greyhawk also has a power control unit that tells me all kinds of stuff but I have not played with it at all.

Thank you
That electrical management system in your Greyhawk monitors 120V AC power only, not 12V DC. It's really a load balancer that will keep track of the amp draws and turn on/off various things to keep from drawing over 30A and tripping a breaker. Seriously handy little device IMO.

I watch mine all the time. I discovered that when I have both ACs running trying to keep the rig cool, I want to switch the water heater over to gas. That electric element in the WH pulls 11 amps. In a 30A rig, that's just too much. In those cases, I switch the fridge over too. Anything I can do to keep the AC units running max and happy!!

IIRC, with both AC units running, and the other "normal" draws, I average right around 22A continuous draw.

I have a simple plug-in monitor for the 12V system, but I haven't installed it yet. I'm planning to do some upgrades this year to that system, so I'll probably install a real one with a shunt on the battery bank so I really know what's going on.
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